In a rare display of guilt from a disappearing government, East German lawmakers trooped to the podium of Parliament on Friday and revealed their ties to the dreaded security arm of the former Communist regime.
One Cabinet minister resigned after admitting he had contacts with the notorious secret police, or Stasi, while about a dozen lawmakers came up to the microphone to deny or explain the accusations against them.The scene was a remarkable display of soul-searching by a troubled government in the final days of its brief existence.
The first freely elected Parliament in East German history will meet one more time before it disbands on Wednesday, when the nation merges with West Germany. Friday's anguished session lasted 12 hours.
In one of its last acts, Parliament voted overwhelmingly to ask a committee investigating the secret police to release the names of 56 officials, three of them ministers and the rest Parliament members, who were purportedly on the secret police payroll.
Lawmakers previously had authorized the committee to investigate individual members of Parliament for ties to the despised police unit.
Parliament also voted Friday to ask the committee to divulge the names of the nine lawmakers in the 400-member Parliament who refused to authorize the committee to investigate their secret police rec-ords.
Lawmakers gave those on the list a chance to address the accusations.
Construction Minister Axel Viehweger did - he promptly resigned. He said he had contacts with the secret police while he was on the energy council in the city of Dresden during the former government.